When the ‘For Sale’ sign appeared in front of East Vancouver’s Vernon Drive Grocery last year, it looked like it might finally be tickets for the tiny neighbourhood bodega…
‘Vernon Groc’ wasn’t exactly the draw in the community it may once have been, but after holding its own on this block for over 100 years it was admired – and photographed! – plenty. Certainly no one wanted to see it disappear. So when the sale went through, the store closed, and the windows were papered over, everyone waited to see what would happen.
Last week, a new sign went up announcing that a new bodega was moving in.
New owners Roger Collins (Calabash Bistro) and Rags Rajesh Narine (Cartems Donuts) took over the Vernon Drive Grocery space this past July and have been readying the 594 sqft, 3-room store for launch as Rise Up Marketplace.
When I visited with Rags and Roger on site this week, the two explained that – while classic convenience store goods like pop, chips and the PacMan arcade game in the corner will be staying – Rise Up Marketplace will also offer take-out coffee, donuts (Cartems, of course), Jamaican patties (direct from Calabash), a selection of baked goods from Cadeaux Bakery, as well as house made sandwiches, soup, and fresh bread. Shelves will be lined with prepared foods and pantry items made by local producers like Mumgry Nut Butter and Kula Kitchen, among others. There will be household items such as candles and soap, plus art and clothing — all made by friends.
Oh, and records will always be playing. By filling the space with warmth and music, and by stocking their shelves with locally made goods, the duo are shooting for something beyond ‘Community Convenience Store’. Their aim is to create a place that makes ‘Community Convenient’.
While the store will have no indoor seating, there will be an enclosed and covered patio with seating available. They hope to have the place up and running in October-ish. Take a look…